The only saving grace from the way the Knicks allowed themselves to be brutalized by the Blazers’ Zach Randolph and Darius Miles last night is that hardly anyone can claim they saw it happen writes the Oregonian’s Mike Tokito.
The Trail Blazers pulled out a come-from-behind win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday, and fewer people than ever watched the excitement at the team’s state-of-the-art arena.
The announced attendance of 12,296 set a franchise low for a home game since the team moved into the Rose Garden during the 1995-96 season.
The count included giveaways and no-shows, and the actual attendance appeared to be lower as several full sections were nearly empty in an arena that seats 19,980 for NBA basketball.
The previous low was 13,454, set Feb. 9 for a game against New Orleans. That came during the 2004-05 season in which average attendance dipped to 16,594, the lowest since the franchise moved to the Rose Garden. The continued decline is particularly noticeable for a franchise that had sellouts in its final 809 games at its previous home arena, Memorial Coliseum.
Team President Steve Patterson said he is not surprised at Wednesday’s attendance low.
“I think we’ll have fewer fans than we’ve had in the past,” Patterson said. “The biggest issue is that Portland is historically a single-game ticket market, and those sales aren’t going to be as high as they have been.
With their backcourt solidified by the additions of veterans Sam Cassell and Cutino Mobley (shown defending Antwain Jamison, above), this looks to be the year the Clippers can finally lay claim to being LA’s best team. Last night’s 102-97 victory over Washington improved the Clips’ record to 4-1, as Elton Brand ran riot for 31 points.
From the NY Daily News’ Roger Rubin.
The Mets met twice on Tuesday with Hoffman’s agent, Rick Thurman, and will speak with him again today. The righthander, who is 42 saves shy of the all-time lead, could be an excellent “get” if Wagner and the Phillies somehow mend their fences.
“He would definitely go to the Mets,” Thurman said yesterday. “They are committed to winning with a first-class team and Trevor wants to be with a team in contention.”
Today is the final day that clubs may negotiate exclusively with their own free agents. Both Wagner and Hoffman could be seeing offer sheets by tomorrow as more than 10 teams may be looking for a closer and – like the Mets – have it at the top of their wish lists.
“A number of teams want their closer situation shored up quickly because it will be hard to attract the front-line starters without one,” said Thurman, who estimated that more than 10 teams have called to express interest in Hoffman, a four-time All-Star.
The last standing offer to Wagner, the 34-year-old with the 100 mph fastball, was for two years with a vesting third based on appearances. According to a baseball official it’s for well below the $10 million per season he is almost certain to be offered by other clubs, including the Mets.
“I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t have already gone to three years,” Wagner told the Philadelphia Inquirer of the Phillies’ offer. “I can understand not wanting to do a full no-trade clause, but I can’t understand why they’re not going three years. I’m surprised.”
He added that he would not accept any offer for fewer than three seasons, “not when the Mets and a few other teams will guarantee three.”
The longer it takes, the more chance there is of them being overtaken by another team,” Wagner said. “Starting (tomorrow) it’s going to be harder and harder for the Phillies to have my ear. . . . I think it’s only right that I hear what other teams have to say – especially a great situation like the Mets.”
Could anything be more exciting than a pair of aging relievers, seeking 3 year deals worth $9-$10 million per, saying so many glowing things about the Mets?
Following yesterday’s report by the Post’s Andrew Marchand that Mets radio voice Gary Cohen would become the play by play announcer for the new SportsNet New York channel, the Times Richard Sandomir has a few more details, along with a priceless quote from Howie Rose.
“He’s always been such a radio chauvinist,” Howie Rose, Cohen’s partner on WFAN Radio the past two seasons, said yesterday after Cohen’s hiring was announced. “And he’s frankly perfected the art. I understand the love of the medium, but you have to search hard for people who have a deeper intrinsic love for calling baseball on radio.
SNY officials say they know what they have in Cohen: a superlative announcer with a penchant for bracing candor. Cohen said that the Mets never asked him to curb his sometimes tart criticism in 17 years, and if that’s not the style that the Mets-owned channel wanted, why hire him?
“We want honesty,” Gowdy said. “We don’t want negativity. We want honesty. He knows that. We’re getting the same guy who was on radio. I don’t know many people who didn’t applaud his honesty.”
Cohen will call 150 games – 125 on SNY and 25 on a broadcast station that has not been decided on – but not being around for the other 12, which will be on ESPN and Fox, will no doubt bother him. He said he felt that he missed a little of last season’s rhythm by calling only 155 of the 162 broadcasts. Kay called 135 Yankees games on YES and Channel 9 last season.
“Frankly, I never understood the value of doing less than all the games,” Cohen said. “Baseball is a great soap opera.” About the downside of missing those seven games, he said, “Everything today connects with what happened yesterday, two weeks ago and 15 years ago; that’s the beauty of doing play-by-play on radio is that you’re there every day. It’s the consistency.”
Rose said that Cohen, a fellow Queens native, believed that the “only problem with a 162-game season is it’s not a 175-game season” and the “only problem with a five-hour game is that it didn’t last six hours.”
It would appear as though much like oft circulated videos of R. Budd Dwyer blowing his brains out or Crispin Glover nearly decapitating David Letterman, the sex romp between R. Kelly and Gary Sheffield’s wife DeLeon, has been something of an underground sensation. From the NY Post’s Dan Mangan.
Gary Sheffield’s wife was the target of several extortion bids ” including one for an “exorbitant” amount of money ” over a raunchy sex tape featuring her and R&B star R. Kelly, the Yankee slugger’s business manager said yesterday.
“You were aware that there were prior extortion attempts regarding the tape?” Michael Petro, the lawyer for the man accused of the latest shakedown bid, asked business manager Rufus Williams.
“That’s correct,” Williams replied.
Petro then asked the business manager if one attempt involved “a demand for an exorbitant amount of money” that was made to Sheffield’s wife, gospel singer DeLeon Richards-Sheffield.
Williams confirmed there was such a demand.
Derrick Mosley, a Chicago community activist, is being tried on charges of trying to extort $20,000 from Williams in November 2004 in exchange for destroying his copy of the tape.
That tape, made a decade ago, shows Kelly having sex with DeLeon, a teenager he was then dating.
Although bootleg copies had circulated in recent years, it was not widely known that the woman on them was Sheffield’s wife.
In the conversations, Mosley said he was repulsed by the video’s contents and believed Richards needed morals counseling ” from him ” to repent her deeds.
By the way, I would like it acknowledged that I have under no duress whatsoever, intentionally used the phrase “sex romp”.
Despite a comment from Rob Dibble today on XM’s “The Show” that recently departed Red Sox GM Theo Epstein would soon return to the team, the Boston Globe’s Gordon Edes claims otherwise.
Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner, meeting tonight with reporters, scotched speculation that Theo Epstein is returning. They said that they have not asked Theo to return and are “turning the page.” It’ll all be in the morning paper.
Presumably, the same morning paper that reported 10 days ago that Epstein had signed a new contract with the club.
Rangers 4, Panthers 3 (shootout)
Maybe you think hockey stinks. Perhaps you’re of the opinion that the whole guys on skates thing is way too Ice Capades. Or maybe you’ve bought into Larry Brooks’ assertion that the new look, intimidation-free Neutered Hockey League has cut the heart out of the game.
Far be it for me to challenge any of your deeply held beliefs, but I’m gonna have to spell it out for you. Unless and until Nate Robinson becomes Earl Monroe reincarnated, the New York Rangers are the most entertaining big league team in the tri-state area. And yes, I’m including the Carter/Kidd/Jefferson Nets when making that assertion.
Dominic Moore’s tying goal with 3 seconds remaining in regulation tonight helped set the stage for Peter Prucha and Henrik Lundquist’s shootout heroics, the former scoring the only goal of the session, the latter denying all Florida shooters.
The Atlantic Division leading Rangers have now won 2 shootouts in their past 3 games ; the Panthers have lost 6 in a row.
It was a disappointing night for Panthers goalie / former Islanders prospect Roberto Luongo, though his sleeve art for Glenn Branca’s ‘The Ascension’ is a personal favorite of mine, and I’m sure he’ll sleep better tonight now that I’ve said so publicly.
All things considered, this really wasn’t worth Buster Olney doing a countdown for 3 months.
The worst thing about this is that the Viagra ads starring Scott Podsednick and David Eckstein are gonna get old really fast next season.
Thanks to Maria for passing along Philebrity’s T.O. madlibs. Because no one has thought of anything to say about this guy all week.
MLB’s NL and AL Managers of The Year were announced today as Atlanta’s wife-beating Bobby Cox and Chicago’s Santeria devotee Ozzie Guillen.
Lest you think the above characterizations are cheap shots, at least I didn’t say anything about Cox being the Gentile Marv Levy.
I don’t know what you got up to last night, but it looks like it was a hell of a party at El Barto’s house.
Devils Rays OF Rocco Baldelli has signed a 6 year, $33 million extension with the club, avoiding arbitration. Baldelli missed the entire 2005 season after injuring his knee while playing ball in the backyard with his younger brother. Oh, how Clint Barmes must’ve laughed when he read that story.
As Omar Minaya’s close personal friend David Sloane continues to work the press, Fish 1B Carlos Delgado would like somebody (anybody!) to tell him what the deal is.
From the Miami Herald’s Kevin Baxter :
”I don’t want to be traded. I want to be a Marlin, and I want be in Florida and have a chance to win,” Delgado said in an unusual conference call with reporters organized by his agent, David Sloan. “That was my position a year ago, and that’s still my position today.”
General manager Larry Beinfest responded to Delgado’s outrage with a silence that spoke volumes.
”No comment,” said Beinfest, who was clearly caught off-guard by Delgado’s decision to take his displeasure public. “No comment on specific players.”
When the Marlins signed Delgado (above) to a four-year, $52 million deal in January, he was asked to accept a contract without a no-trade clause — something the team indicated was little more than a formality because it had no intention of trading him anyway. But in the past 10 months the Marlins have seen their stadium plans put on hold. And after spending a franchise-record $65 million on a club that finished tied for third in the National League East last season, it’s likely the team will have to cut payroll this winter.
That makes Delgado, whose salary grows more than $9 million to $13.5 million in 2006, a likely trade option. And that uncertainty is weighing on the two-time All-Star.
”The more I think about it, the more distracting it is,” he said from Puerto Rico. “I’m getting married next month. I’d like to have an idea where I’m going for spring training.”
Sloan said the one thing that might change Delgado’s mind is if the Marlins determine they aren’t going to field a competitive team in the next three seasons.
”If you’re going to field a team of Miguel [Cabrera], Dontrelle [Willis] and the seven dwarfs, tell us now,” Sloan said he asked Beinfest. ‘I told Larry all he had to do was say, `We’re not shopping Carlos.’ He said `I don’t want to do that.’
Jay Strell passes along a link from the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers, tipping 1B Paul Konerko to re-sign with the White Sox. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting that Konerko will be speaking with the Red Sox.
Boston’s GM situation, while far from resolved, has taken a slight twist with reports in today’s Herald indicating that some within the Red Sox ownership group would like to convince Theo Epstein to reconsider. As some of us with no connections whatsoever have already suggested such a scenario, I will be certain to delete all of the embarrassing old comments if this doesn’t turn out to be the case.
From the Associated Press.
Notre Dame received a B on the minority hiring report card released Wednesday by the Black Coaches Association, even though the Fighting Irish fired Tyrone Willingham after the 2004 season.
Notre Dame was one of eight schools in Division I-A or I-AA to receive a B, while five schools, including South Carolina and Utah, received an F.
Schools are evaluated on categories that include the percentage of minorities involved in the hiring process, the number of minority candidates who interviewed and the schools’ contacts with either BCA executive director Floyd Keith or the chairman of the NCAA’s Minority Opportunity and Interests Committee.
Though I’m sure the Irish’s “B” was well deserved, had the BCA been handing out grades for minority firing, Notre Dame would’ve received the highest mark.
While growing up in the lovely Greater Boston area, I had the displeasure of reading newspaper accounts of Cambridge Rindge & Latin’s standout C Patrick Ewing being taunted by rival fans with signs proclaiming “Patrick Can’t Read”.
To this day, no one has been able to explain to me how this was funny on any level. Much as I’m wondering how much courage was required to run a photograph of Mike Tyson underneath the headline “Tyson Most Likely Celeb Who Can’t Read”.
I guess no one is taking odds on which blogger can’t write.
The Toronto Sun’s Dave Feschuk on Damon Jones’ early days with Cleveland.
Walking into the Cavaliers’ locker room it was safe to expect a loquacious love-in. After an off-season retooling that brought a cadre of new talent to the aid of the formerly under-manned LeBron James, there has been nothing but good vibes coming off the Lake Erie shore. Word had it that the new Cavs ”Donyell Marshall, Larry Hughes and Damon Jones among them ” are getting along famously.
And you could only assume that the animated ringleader of the circle of fast friends would be Jones (above), the not-so-shy journeyman who once declared himself not only the funniest man in the NBA, but the funniest person in the world. Jones was last seen playing Shaquille O’Neal’s loud-mouthed sidekick with the Miami Heat, dubbing himself Mini-He to the Big Behemoth. But last night Jones wasn’t holding court with the media or yucking it up with his new teammates. Approached by a lone reporter before the game, he bristled. “I’m on a revolt,” he said without a smile. “I’m not talking.”
The idea of Jones not talking, of course, is like the prospect of Niagara Falls not misting, the Mona Lisa not smiling. And, indeed, once that was pointed out to Jones, he qualified the terms of his tight-lippedness. “I’m not talking about basketball ever again,” he said. “I’m talking about my life in general. No basketball questions.”
Cleveland media types, who have decided to reciprocate the player’s hoop-related silence with a printed word blackout on Jones-related information, are hypothesizing that he’s unhappy that he was beaten out as the opening-night starting point guard by Eric Snow. Jones’s biggest contribution last night was sticking a first-quarter finger into the chest of Rafael Araujo after the Raptors centre dumped James with a hard but acceptable foul.
Marshall, told of Jones’s boycott, waved a dismissive hand. “That’s his comedian thing,” he said.
Perhaps ignoring the podcast (hello, Alex Reimer) or Connecticut School Of Broadcasting (how ya doin’, Joe Benigno-Gazingo?) as the sports-yack launching pads of the modern era, the New York Times’ Marke Fuchs talks to the would-be Francescas & Russos at Fordham’s WFUV, along with recounting the experiences of alums like Knicks play-by-play voice Mike Breen.
To Mr. Breen (above), the chance to work in other parts of the radio station proved advantageous. As a freshman, he spun records during an overnight shift when he was the only person at the station. As it happened, he was there, the only one there, on the December night in 1980 when John Lennon was killed.
“I was a geeky freshman,” said Mr. Breen, who recalled playing a lot of Beatles songs and reading news in stilted fashion from The Associated Press. Eventually, he had to call the program director for help.
Calls kept coming in from people with stories about Lennon, his lyrics and his life. “They were crying and spilling their emotions,” he said, “and it was a little overwhelming and got crazy.”
Thought it does sound as if Breen handled himself well under trying circumstances (at least he didn’t play any David Peel records), I can’t help but fantasize how well that particular broadcast might’ve gone had Walt Frazier been there to assist. Much as I’ve often wondered how Johnny Most might’ve covered the Hindenburg disaster.
The Independent’s Jason Burt reports that former England manager Terry Venables is the front runner for the currently vacant Republic Of Ireland job.
The Irish are not due to play again until 1 March and, although no opponent has so far been scheduled, there have been preliminary discussions over a fixture with England.
The FAI wants a successor to Brian Kerr, who did not have his contract renewed after failing to qualify for next year’s World Cup. However, it is thought that it favours a high-profile name such as Venables.
It may be that someone like Venables, now 65, is appointed in tandem with a former player who can be groomed as his successor. Steve Staunton or Niall Quinn might fit the bill.
Venables, whose brief tenure as a Saturday afternoon pundit for Virgin Radio included the unfortunate title “The Godfather Of Football”, has a long history of club and international success, along with a fun-filled business c.v. that might’ve played a role in his departure from the England post, to say nothing of his role in the Crystal Palace’s financial misery.
Though Phil Mushnick would have us believe that the Mets’ reluctance to retain the services of Ted Robinson next season is tantamount to a crime against humanity, the Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that Gary Cohen will be moving from the WFAN microphone to that of the Wilpon-backed SportsNet TV.
After Dave O’Brien chose ESPN over SNY two weeks ago, SNY and Met executives honed in on Cohen (above) to be their man in the TV booth. Cohen is expected to work nearly all of the Mets’ games on TV.
The Mets’ owner, Fred Wilpon, has been outspoken in wanting his TV voice to call all the team’s games. This hurt the chances of Ted Robinson because he works grand slam tennis for NBC and USA.
Cohen is likely making the move in large part because television is more lucrative financially than radio. As a radio play-by-player, besides being on top of the action, Cohen was known to be critical when it was called for. Under greater scrutiny on TV, it will say a lot about SNY and Mets’ ownership if Cohen is not pressured to tone down his assessments.
The only foreseeable drawback for Cohen is if he will be able to demonstrate the levity that TV sometimes demands compared to the nuts-and-bolts of radio broadcasting.
Cohen’s partners on TV have yet to be decided. SNY executives have spoken to Keith Hernandez and David Cone. Al Leiter is another possibility.
On the radio side, WFAN ” which is on the verge of signing a new deal with the Mets ” could make Howie Rose the lead play-by-player and then search for a new No. 2 man.
More get-your-hopes-up stuff from the GM meetings, as the NY Daily News’ Bill Madden tips the Mets to make a run at Aubrey Huff and Danys Baez while the Post’s Mark Hale identifies Alfonso Soriano as Plan B if the Manny Ramirez gambit proves unfruitful.
Amidst reports that the Yankees are considering trading for Dodgers OF Milton Bradley, Newsday’s Jon Heyman can barely restrain himself.
At times like this, it becomes necessary to remind them it isn’t necessary to rush into anything foolish, or even nuts. Which brings us right to Milton Bradley, who’s the real issue here as one of six prime centerfield options Yankees people identified and debated at their recent pre-winter organizational meetings.
A word of advice: don’t.
Although Ugueth Urbina and his extremely spotty past were discussed at the Yankees’ recent meeting, I have to think they now understand that relief and work release are not compatible concepts. For the record, Urbina says he’s innocent, and just because Red Sox fans used to accuse him of setting things ablaze doesn’t mean he actually did set fire to those five workers on his ranch, as he’s been accused of.
Anyway, if Urbina’s a candidate for the pen, presumably it isn’t the Yankees’ pen.
Although it seems absurd to think the Yankees would even consider Bradley, agents Seth and Sam Levinson have talked the Yankees out of a load of loot and into a lot of bad moves, from Matt Lawton to Javier Vazquez to Grant Roberts to Mark Wohlers to Mike Stanton II (second phase).
More advice : If the Levinsons pull out their usual tools of hypnotism, please, run away.
With no easy-to-obtain alternative out there, there’s a chance the Yankees will weaken. It’s true the White Sox welcomed questionable characters such as A.J. Punk-zynski and Carl Everett into their midst in a Raider-like approach en route to their World Series win.
Yet the South Side of Chicago isn’t New York. With a limited payroll, the White Sox had to take chances. The Yankees shouldn’t have to take a chance like this.
Rarely does an afternoon pass at Will Leitch’s psuedo-blog without the imbecile-in-chief implying that Colts QB Peyton Manning is, y’know, queer for Kenny Chesney.
Though I think a person who can actually ID Kenny Chesney has a lot of nerve making fun of anyone else, perhaps this blast from the past will serve as a valuable reminder that even if Manning were married to Randy Travis, he’d have far more embarrassing skeletons in his closet.
Sorry. It’s been a tough day, what with driving James Prince McMillan’s supporters to the polls and all of my volunteer work at the orphanage.
From Michael Silverman in Tuesday morning’s Boston Herald.
The Mets not only have interest in trading for Manny Ramirez, they also believe that the Red Sox outfielder has interest in playing for them.
Recent reports have suggested that Ramirez does not want to play in New York and prefers to play for Anaheim, Arizona or Cleveland. A baseball source, however, said yesterday that the Mets have received indication that reports of Ramirez not wanting to play too close to his hometown may have been a smokescreen aimed at diverting attention from the Mets™ pursuit. Ramirez does have veto rights over any deal, so his consent is key.
The Red Sox and Mets spoke at the trading deadline this past July about both a two- and three-team deal, the third team being the Devil Rays. Now, the Mets are believed to be ready to deal directly with the Sox.
The centerpiece of the deal, coming from the Mets™ side, would be center fielder Mike Cameron and two of the following three prospects: outfielder Lastings Milledge and right-handers Aaron Heilman and Yusmeiro Petit.
Rotoworld follows up thusly :
Agent Greg Genske told ESPN’s Peter Gammons today that Manny Ramirez still isn’t interested in going to the Mets.
Then where can Manny go? According to the Boston Globe’s Gordon Edes, the Angels might be out, as neither Ramirez nor Garret Anderson wants to be a DH. Ramirez’s other supposed preferred choice, Cleveland, doesn’t seem very interested. If Ramirez would really block a trade to the Mets, then there’s a good chance he’ll be stuck in Boston.
Sam Frank falls asleep during Christopher Brodeur’s concession speech, but not before forwarding tonight’s election results.
(on behalf of NYC candidate Prince James McMillan, we demand a recount).
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci reports the New York Yankees, in addition to declining their 2006 option on first baseman Tino Martinez, are hoping to move veteran catcher Jorge Posada.
According to baseball executives at the general managers meetings here, the Yankees have floated Posada’s name on the trade market. He does not have a no-trade provision. The Yankees, though, have no real expectations of moving Posada because of his hefty contract.
At 34, Posada is entering what traditionally has been an age of declining production for catchers; his on-base and slugging percentages have dropped two straight seasons from his career year of 2003. Posada is scheduled to earn $8 million next season, and if he catches 63 games next season his $12 million option for 2007 becomes guaranteed. (The option vests with 330 games caught from 2004-06. Posada caught 267 games over the past two seasons.)
Not even the Yankees, with all their resources, are thrilled about paying $12 million for a catcher who turns 36 that year. Of course, that clause makes a trade difficult, which explains why New York also had given some thought to using Posada, who was signed as an infielder, at first base. (Without the vested option, the Yankees hold a $4 million buyout for 2007.)
Cashman, however, said the club has no plans to play Posada at first base.
The above headline comes courtesy of Ben “if this isn’t the best case yet for steroids, I don’t know what is” Schwartz, who culls the following from MLB.com.
Q : Does the White Sox winning the World Series put any pressure on the Cubs this winter to shore up their team for a possible World Series appearance in ’06? –
Doug W., Joliet, Ill.
Carrie Muskat :
I think Cubs management feels that type of pressure every year, no matter who wins the World Series.
The Cubs’ 2006 Chase For 3rd Place began in Ernest today (and by that, I mean Jim Varney’s annoying character) with the signing of SS Neifi Perez to a 2 year contract extension.
Writes Brian Turner,
Didn’t think anyone liked Jackyl more than me…
but I was wrong.
Brian didn’t mention where he found this picture of Mike Piazza’s back, but I suppose there’s lots of this kind of thing on the internet.
The Sporting News has named Cleveland Indians GM Mark Shapiro their 2005 Executive Of The Year.
Though I’ve not seen the final tally, I will assume that Chuck LaMar did not come in 2nd place.
Bartolo Colon is your 2005 American League Cy Young Award Winner. No votes for Carlos Colon, apparently, which isn’t surprising seeing as he didn’t pitch last year.
Two R. Kelly mentions in one morning, not bad. From the NY Post’s Dan Mangan.
A self-proclaimed minister accused of trying to shake down slugger Gary Sheffield over a steamy sex video of his gospel-singing wife and randy R&B star R. Kelly first phoned the Yankees with an extortion bid, a team official claimed yesterday.
Testifying in federal court in Chicago, Yankee media representative Heidi Baker told jurors that Derrick Mosley phoned the team early last November about the raunchy tape that features DeLeon Richards in a sex romp with Kelly.
“A man said he had a videotape with Gary’s wife in a compromising position with a pop singer,” Baker said. “He asked me what it would be worth to the Yankees organization to have this tape.”
“He wanted something from us,” Baker said.
When Mosley asked what he should do with the video, Baker said she told him to contact the Sheffields’ business manager, Rufus Williams.
He told me that he hated to make this call” and that he had “some videotape of my client DeLeon Sheffield engaged in some really repugnant areas with R. Kelly,” Williams said.
He testified that Mosley also told him Richards had “to atone” for what was on the tape.
He said he was greatly concerned for Richards, whom he described as “a woman of God ” the family is, always has been.”
First person to say anything about a little mustache is banned for life.